MIAMI — American Airlines (AA) is retiring its American Way inflight magazine at the end of June 2021, ending its 55-year run.

The magazine is a free, inflight print publication available across the entire American Airlines fleet and Admirals Clubs’ premium lounges. It is published on a monthly basis and reaches over 16 million passengers every month.

In 1966, AA began filling their seatbacks with American Way, formerly known as The American Way. Since then, the magazine has been a constant presence on the carrier’s planes, offering thoughtful viewpoints and feature pieces on culture, lifestyle, and travel.

When a magazine ceases its print run due to its readership residing mostly on digital channels, it’s scarcely newsworthy these days. To offset this, many publishers are focusing more on digital projects, including social media, video, newsletters, and podcasts, to compensate for the lack of profitability of printed content.

However, In AA’s case, its end might have more to do with customers having plenty of options thanks to the carrier’s inflight entertainment (IFE), the industry’s coming to terms with environmental awareness, and the airline’s staving off the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

American Way
Image: American Airlines

Current IFE Offering

While the most recent edition of American Way, published by global travel media business Ink, is currently on flights, AA says it has been focusing on improving its inflight offerings to provide customers with the content they desire most. Per AA’s press release, the airline offers “something for everyone,” including:

  • A library of up to 600 movies and TV shows
  • A collection of more than 150 creative, productivity or language classes on American’s new Lifestyle inflight entertainment channel featuring Rosetta Stone and Skillshare content
  • Customers may continue to view entertaining travel content created in partnership with Ink
  • Wide range of kids’ content with new releases and classics, as well as options for our youngest travelers provided by BabyFirst and StoryBots
  • Live music and concert performances from top venues such as Austin City Limits
  • Meditation and relaxation exercises from Calm, a leader in content that helps users relax, sleep or become more mindful
The Economy Cabin is a tight 10 abreast configuration on the new 777-300ERs but the new IFE’s and lighting are a definite upgrade. Photo: Chris Sloan

New Inflight Products

American says it will soon unveil new inflight products to sate its passenger’s wanderlust and provide them with more opportunities to stay in touch with family and friends while flying at 35,000 feet.

Customers can use their phone, iPad, or laptop to stream content. To connect to the “AA-Inflight” signal, passengers just need to turn on airplane mode. From there, they can go to to enjoy AA’s IFE.

The airline says the cancelation of American Way will not only offer customers more of what they want, but it will also cut paper waste and weight on its planes.

Notwithstanding that airlines’ overall profits have been cut due to pandemic over the last 18 months, AA says it is continuously looking for new methods to reduce, reuse, and recycle in its business, and that it is grateful for any chance to make even tiny improvements.

A Digital Transition

However, generally speaking, the businesses that push the boundaries of digital content will thrive and have the best opportunity to attract customers to their services. It is a strategy that tech giants such as Apple and Amazon have put forward successfully.

AS Renée Ruggeri from Driving Growth puts it, the best case studies for success are those who can successfully transition from “magazine” to “media brand,” and while AA is not a media company, it is a globally well-known brand.

American Airlines is a founding member of the Oneworld alliance, the third-largest airline alliance in the world. Under its American Eagle brand, independent and subsidiary carriers provide regional service on behalf of AA.

Featured image: AMERICAN AIRLINES N919NN BOEING 737-800/oneworld Livery. Photo: Luke Ayers/Airways